Thursday, October 28, 2010

Election Day: A Day to Speak on Behalf of the Environment

Election Day is right around the corner! I hope all you fellow Californians are registered to vote and are geared with the knowledge to address the issues. Want some tips? Below are the propositions that I found will affect the environment and my reasoning on whether to vote Yes or No:

yosemite national parkProp 21- establishes $18 annual vehicle license surcharge to help fund state parks and wildlife programs; grants surcharged vehicles free admission to all state parks.
Vote: Yes. California’s state parks have undergone multiple budget cuts and need funding for proper maintenance and repairs. Not only will this measure allow for the continued existence of our beautiful parks, it will incentivize the public to visit these areas and enjoy the outdoors.

Prop 22- prohibits the state from borrowing or taking funds used for transportation, redevelopment, or local government projects and services.metro red line
Vote: Yes. Last year the State passed a budget that borrowed and took approximately $5 billion in city, county, transit, redevelopment and special district funds. Beyond taking money away from police services, healthcare services, road repair and maintenance, parks, and libraries, the State hurt public transit maintenance. As I’m sure many of you have noticed, bus/rail/shuttle fare prices have increased and routes have been redirected. Saying Yes on 22 will protect these necessary services from further cuts and protect the local community that relies on them.

Prop 23- suspends implementation of air pollution control law (AB 32) requiring major sources of emissions to report and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, until unemployment drops to 5.5% or less for full year.
Vote: climate change polar bearNo. California’s Global Warming Solutions Act AB 32, signed in 2006 by Governor Schwarzenegger, is set to bring the state’s emissions down to 1990 levels by 2020. Prop 23 would stop the implementation of AB 32 until unemployment is below 5.5% for at least a year, a number our state’s unemployment has not even touched in three years. It would effectively kill California’s landmark climate change law and discourage other states from passing similar statutes. We cannot let this measure go through; if there is only one thing that you remember on November 2nd as you stand in the booth, I hope it is “No on 23.”
For further information: Learn more about AB 32, hear a catchy tune, read what Environment California has to say.

Prop 26- requires that certain state and local fees be approved by two-thirds vote; fees include those that address adverse impacts on society or the environment caused by the fee-payer’s business.air pollution
Vote: No. This measure, if passed, would make it more difficult to pass fees on industries that pollute our air and water and ultimately endanger our health. The funds raised by these pollution fees are used by state and local governments for programs to clean up oil spills or hazardous waste and address the health effects of cigarettes, pesticides, and alcohol.

To learn about all the propositions that will be on the ballot November 2nd, please visit the official voter’s guide or Even if you ultimately disagree with what I have said here, I hope that you stay sharp, stay aware, and make sure your voice is heard.

It’s Not Easy Being Green – or is it?

I’ve often identified with Kermit the frog.  His sentiment “It’s not easy being green” was often the way I felt throughout my earlier years growing up in a conservative ranch town turned sprawled-out suburb.  As a kid it was a challenge to get my family and neighbors to recycle, people thought I was an alien from outer-space when I told them that I was a vegetarian, and our local supermarket did not carry anything labeled “Organic.”

Today, not only is it easy to be green, it’s also become something that everyone wants to be.  This powerful shift is the result of an entire planet waking up to the idea that sustainability is something that makes our lives better and can make business more profitable.  What once was a paradigm of “jobs vs. the environment” has been replaced by “green-collar jobs” and the “green economy.”  This shift is not just the slick efforts of marketing masters. It is the result of real, truly innovative and passionate environmentalists working in every sector and level of the economy.  It is also the result of some very significant changes in state and national laws which incentivize green business over traditional dirty business and create mandates at state and local levels. 

To be sure, it has been a long road to make green easy, and we still have a ways to go.  But, it is clear, that Kermit the Frogs everywhere can wear their green proudly knowing that it is because of them that being green will continue to get easier and easier.    

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What Goes Around, Comes Around

What Goes Around, Comes Around in Green BusinessYou know that old adage “what goes around comes around?” I think it is absolutely the best strategy to grow your organization sustainably. I have found, not only in my practice as a lawyer, but in all aspects of my life, that if I take the time to help someone else with what they need, I will inevitably find that I, and my own business grow stronger as a result. The key to making this strategy work for you and your organization is tap into what you do best and give it away to those that could actually use what you have to give. What happens next is: that person remembers you, knows what you do, and will not only tell others about what you did for them, but they will become an advocate for you. Before you know it, you have more business!

Case in point. While still working at my old law firm, I made friends with supervisor of the mail room. She was such an inspiration. While holding down a full time job at the law firm she also found time to organize gang prevention programs and a charter school in South Central Los Angeles. She would tell me stories about the kids affected by gangs in those neighborhoods and how their simplest needs were not met. I wanted to help her, and my particular skill was organizing fundraisers for social missions. So, I set out to organize an office Thanksgiving basket program for families in need with her. It was so successful that the firm continued the program even after I had left. Shortly after starting my practice, one of my first clients was my friend and since then she has referred me other clients. And so it goes, what comes around, goes around. I have countless stories just like this one, and I’m sure you do too if you think about it.

So, how can you harness the power of “what comes around goes around” for your business or organization? Here are some ideas:

· Find a local charity and invite your employees to participate in it during their work week. (You will find that their enthusiasm and inspiration from this project will translate to the work that they do for your organization). If you are in Los Angeles you can go to to find an organization that fits your organizational values.
· Plant a tree for every new project you have (You’ll develop a loyal client base of likeminded companies. For example check out Chromatic Lithographers, their project is called the Green Print Alliance.
· Help your friend or colleague that needs a new job by forwarding them job openings that they might be interested in. (If that company actually hires your friend, your will have a great connection at that company – and who knows - get some new business from your new alliance).
· Give a little to that person that you drive past every day. (You will realize how much you have, and be thankful for it).

We’d love to hear your ideas too. Please share them with us!